By Diane Hwang
Managing your food intake for diabetes is a full-time job. It requires constantly monitoring your blood sugar levels by administering finger-prick tests and checking your glucose and insulin levels.
Most people know that there are two types of diabetes a person can have but are unaware of the important distinctions between them.
- Type 1 is an inherited autoimmune disease that affects those with a higher risk of genetic diabetes
- Type 2 is a metabolic disorder caused by weight, genetics, and certain diets
Both require one to consider potential lifestyle changes in order to maximize ongoing diabetes care, particularly in the case of people with Type 2. Living with diabetes doesn’t mean you need to give up all the foods you love, though. It just means you need to learn how to make balanced meals and healthier choices. We’ll discuss what foods are best for diabetes control, and which can help stabilize your blood sugar levels.
What Are The Best Foods To Eat If You Are Prediabetic?
Being diagnosed with prediabetes means that you are close to developing Type 2 diabetes, and your doctor has likely advised you to start taking serious steps towards changing what you’re eating. Many people with prediabetes have no overt symptoms, except for really high blood sugar levels. It is a health condition that should be taken seriously because if left untreated, you are at higher risk for developing other, more critical conditions.
For anyone who is diabetic or prediabetic, following these general food guidelines is a great way to start controlling your diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, your diet should include fruits and vegetables, lean protein, foods without added sugar, and no trans fat. You should also be monitoring and limiting your carbohydrate intake because starchy carbs can raise your blood sugar levels.
Green Leafy Vegetables
Green, leafy vegetables are a very important part of a diabetic’s diet. They are super nutritious, low in calories, and can help manage blood sugar levels. Examples include (but are not limited to) spinach, kale, broccoli, collard greens, and cauliflower. Because they are high in fiber, eating a big helping every day can help curb your appetite and keep you feeling full later on. Additionally, they are rich in minerals and omega-3 fatty acids, which can help regulate your blood sugar levels. If you have Type 2 diabetes, you should absolutely focus on incorporating more of these foods into your diet.
Citrus Fruits and Berries
The glycemic index scale indicates how quickly a food will cause your blood sugar to spike. Referring to this scale before eating anything as a diabetic can be life-saving. Fruits that are low on the GI scale tend to be citrus fruits and berries, while fruit that is high are dates and watermelon. This is not to say you can never enjoy watermelon again, but you should limit your intake and portions. Focusing on eating things like oranges, grapefruits, blueberries, and strawberries instead. These you can safely enjoy in larger quantities without worrying about your blood sugar levels and are best for diabetes control.
Like green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits and berries are high in fiber, which is an important part of a diabetic’s diet. Eating larger portions of these can help curb your appetite throughout the day, so you’re less likely to reach for unhealthy food options.
Ditch any foods that are made with white grains, like white rice, white bread, and white potatoes. They lack nutrients and can contribute to weight gain, which increases health risks associated with diabetes.
Instead, choose foods made with whole grains. Whole grains include things like brown rice, quinoa, barley, sweet potatoes, and rye. They have higher levels of fiber, which will leave you feeling fuller for longer, and are much more nutrient-dense. They also have less of an impact on blood sugar, because of their low score on the glycemic index scale. Overall, choosing whole grains is a healthier choice every time.
How Can I Stabilize My Blood Sugar Overnight?
Sugar levels change drastically overnight, and it can worry people living with diabetes. Thankfully, you can manage your blood sugar levels through your diet. Two ways you can make sure they remain stabilized overnight are by eating a well-balanced meal consistently throughout the day and also eating a healthy, snack before bedtime.
What you eat during the day can drastically affect your levels at night, so maintaining a healthy diet is the best way to ensure your levels are stabilized while you sleep. There are a few things you can eat to get your blood sugar levels up.
Healthy snack foods that you can eat before bed include a handful of nuts, a hard-boiled egg, or non-starchy vegetables like baby carrots or cucumber slices.
You should always consult with your doctor about which snack foods are best for controlling your diabetes and for your unique needs.
What Foods Help Stabilize Blood Sugar?
Maintaining balanced blood sugar levels is very important for living a healthy life and avoiding long-term health issues. All of the foods previously mentioned will help stabilize your blood sugar levels, but one that hasn’t been mentioned is protein.
Proteins can help prevent post-meal sugar spikes because they are easily digestible by the body. There are good proteins and bad proteins, though. Red meat, like beef or pork, can actually increase your risk for diabetes. This is because they’re high in fat and can promote insulin resistance.
Stick with leaner meats, like poultry, fish, or shellfish. There are also lots of plant-based proteins that are great options if you’re avoiding meat. These all contain healthy fats that are better for controlling your diabetes.
Eat Well and Stay Healthy
If you have diabetes or prediabetes, you are not alone. According to the CDC, there are an estimated 34 million Americans living with the disease today. The best way to control diabetes is by eating a healthy, balanced diet. Steer clear of processed foods, white grain foods, and foods that have lots of added sugars. Focus on eating whole foods, like fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins. Overall, eating well and taking care of your body is the best way to manage your blood sugar levels.